Murder clouds, black from the edge

On Tuesday 16 June 1981 the front page of the North Western Courier carried two articles related to Eddie Murray’s ‘suicide’.

Firstly, the Courier published these few lines about Keith Morris being awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his services to Aboriginal welfare (together with his photo):


Mr. Keith Raymond Morris of Delta Pine Place, Wee Waa has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Mr. Morris was recognised for his work for aboriginal welfare in Australia.

He has been president of Pimbaacla Aboriginal Co-operative (formerly Wee Waa Aboriginal Advancement Association) since 1976 and has taken an active interest in the welfare of itinerant and residing aboriginal families in Wee Waa.

He works closely with government departments and community welfare groups in the interests of aboriginal advancement in the North West.

Mr. Morris said on Saturday that he had mixed emotions about receiving the medal but was surprised and pleased to be nominated for the honour.

The second article described in four short paragraphs how Eddie’s body had been discovered, and added that a coronial inquest would be held.

It is little wonder that Keith Morris, a blackfella, told the reporter from the Courier that he had mixed emotions about receiving the award for his services to Aboriginal welfare [North Western Courier 16 June 1981 p1].

Keith and Eddie’s dad, Arthur, were mates, they had worked together chipping cotton around Wee Waa for a long time.

And Keith was married to Jean Sands who had grown up with Arthur on Angledool mission.

Keith’s premonition about receiving the Order of Australia OAM medal  came true when his white ‘mates’ in the town bestowed their own cardboard crown on Keith and labelled it ‘King Koon’. And the licensee placed the mock crown like a trophy on show above the bar of Wee Waa’s other pub, the Royal hotel (pictured below


Beneath the Grace of Clouds by Janie Conway-Herron is a fictionalised by account of racism in Australia and responses to it by three strong characters, all women.

It is a story about finding your own identity, your own voice.

As a participant in some of the events described in Clouds I found it true to time and circumstance, for example, the 1982 Commonwealth Games Land Rights Protests in Brisbane.

arrest near garden city 1982 commonwealth games
1982 Commonwealth Games Land Rights Protests Photo: Joanna Kelly

The book raises the terrible burden placed on Aboriginal people by the process of colonisation that continues to this day with black deaths in custody and the ongoing stolen generation. Struggles documented in this book continue; for example, the fight for justice by the surviving members of the Murray family from Wee Waa after the ‘suicide’ of their brother, Eddie, in 1981.

But Clouds is about more than modern suppression of aboriginal resistance, it is an historical novel that goes back to the first fleet and follows the lives of three women – one, the youngest female transportee; the other, an aboriginal woman who survives colonisation; and the third, Janie herself trying to find her own identity – somehow related to both the others.


The poverty of justice
In 1982 the author of Clouds visited the Namoi shire in New South Wales – a cotton growing district, once predominantly used for wheat growing and sheep grazing.  It is called Wee Waa – Kamilaroi words meaning ‘Fire for Roasting’. Like many things historical, this is the subject of conjecture some claim it comes  from the ‘wee aargh’ that bullockies would shout.

Janie Conway-Herron was coming to see Eddie Murray’s parents. Eddie’s dad, Arthur, was a cotton chipper who had led a strike for better conditions in 1973. Their son, Eddie, was in line to play for Redfern All Blacks against New Zealand. Wee Waa was a two-pub town and its main religion was rugby league. Eddie like many Murris and Kooris was hitting the big time after playing as a youngster in Wee Waa. In the years that followed, blackfella participation in sports like Rugby League has helped break down racism because it is pretty hard to be racist towards a team member you rely on. But those were early days and it didn’t help Eddie. Janie wrote these words in her song about Eddie:

Eddie came from a town called Wee Waa, 
in the deep north of New South Wales.
Where cotton is grown by wealthy landlords, 
and cheap black labour helps keep it that way.

The coppers reckon that Eddie hung himself by tearing up a cell blanket and threading it through a grill above the cell door way above his head after being arrested on Friday night for drunkenness near the Imperial Hotel. Under the legal fiction of the time, Eddie Murray was not arrested but detained under the NSW Intoxicated Persons Act and placed in “preventive detention”.   He could have simply been taken home but was taken to the Wee Waa watchouse instead.   At the time, according to the 1981-82 Bureau of Crime Statistics report, the rate of detention of Aboriginal people in north-western NSW under the Intoxicated Persons Act was 93 times the overall rate for the State.

Imperial, Wee Waa
The Imperial, Wee Waa – a ‘local hotel with its verandahs laced with white iron lattice reminded me of a giant wedding cake’ (Janie Conway-Herron in ‘Beneath the Grace of Clouds’)

In 1997 a court ordered that Eddie’s body be exhumed to reveal he had a broken sternum.

One technique in rugby league to take the wind out of your opponent is to drop the knee onto his chest.

This is how Snr Sgt Chris Hurley killed Mulrunji on Palm Island in 2004. Ahough Hurley claimed to have fallen on Mulrunji.

Another tactic by police who want to take the wind out of your sails is they spear you headlong into the paddy wagon catching a part of your body on the opening (usually your head) to inflict as much damage as possible before they take you to the watchouse. Only one witness (named Collett) said Eddie was thrown head long into the back of the van. Other eyewitnesses did not support this. By this time, he had been arrested over 7 times in the last three years, Eddie knew bullimen‘s tricks but he was in no fit state to defend himself.

Eddie Murray was as cool as the other side of the pillow. There is no way Eddie could have hung himself, for mine, it was murder most foul.  The coppers threatened Eddie and Arthur Murray in the lead-up to his ‘suicide’; two weeks before they picked Eddie up, the cops told Arthur that they were going to get either him or his son, Eddie. But that’s the way it goes when you’re a blackfella and show up on the street.

Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks.
Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it
                                         - Shakespeare

The Critical Hour 
Eddie Murray died between 2pm when he was picked up by police and 3pm on 12 June 1981 when he was found dead in his cell at the Wee Waa watchouse. A cleaner, McKnight, overheard the following exchange between Eddie and Snr Constable Kevin Parker at the charging desk.

Murray: “Why do you always pick on me? Why don’t you pick on white people?

McKnight said Parker responded in a very loud voice.

Parker: “Sit down and shut up or I’ll charge you with something more serious. I am only charging you with drunkenness.”

Sgt Moseley and Snr. Cnst. Parker escorted Eddie to the cell between 2:10pm and 2:15pm. [Years later, Mr Justice Muirhead concluded that the account given by the police officers, Parker and Moseley, was likely to be fabricated and untruthful, at least in part.]

During the next 20 minutes and prior to his death it is likely Eddie’s sternum was broken.

Only policemen Parker and Moseley had access to Eddie at this time.

In 1994, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) found Senior Constable Kevin Parker was corrupt and willing to manipulate police records.

In 2011, Mr Mark Coure (Liberal MP for Oatley and a presiding member of ICAC) rose in the NSW parliament to make the following tribute to Parker:

“Kevin made a major contribution to the community and to the New South Wales Police Force, serving for 30 years at a number of police stations including at Kogarah, Hurstville, Port Kembla, Dapto, Wee Waa, Redfern and Goulburn Street. While he was at Dapto, Kevin was involved in the establishment of a community youth club. Indeed, he made an invaluable contribution to charities and fundraising in every area in which he worked …

The justice of poverty
No mention of Parker's loud angry voice,
No mention of disdain for Eddie in this, his last hour,
No mention of Eddie's broken sternum,
No mention of fabricated evidence,
In fact, no mention of Eddie Murray at all
Hung lifeless behind cell door in Wee Waa
Nor of the words of Eddie's greiving mum and dad.

Sergeant Moseley came into an upstairs room at the police station. He said “Sit down Arthur, I locked your son Eddie up this afternoon. I went back to inspect him after an hour and found him hanging from the cell door.” I said “What dead?“, he said “Yeah“. I collapsed. When I awoke I was on a stretcher and was taken to the hospital. I remained there until late that night. I then returned home and saw my wife and family mourning.


The workers
In Wee Waa, cotton chippers started at dawn and worked harder than most for a pittance to supply the cotton markets. Its makes for hard men and women, most of them aboriginal. John Pilger’s tribute for Eddie’s dad, Arthur Murray, in October 2012 put it this way:

Working conditions in the cotton fields were primitive and dangerous. “The crop-sprayers used to fly so low,” Arthur told me, “we had to lie face down in the mud or our heads would’ve been chopped off. The insecticide was dumped on us, and for days we’d be coughing and chucking it up.” In 1973, a Sydney University study reported its “astounded” finding of fish floating dead on the surface of the Namoi River, poisoned by the “utterly mad, uncontrolled” level of spraying, which continued.

Arthur and the cotton-chippers made history. They went on strike, and more than 500 of them marched through Wee Waa. The Wee Waa Echo called them “radicals and professional troublemakers”, adding that “it is not fanciful to see the Aboriginal problem as the powder keg for Communist aggression in Australia”.  Abused as “boongs” and “niggers”, the Murrays’ riverside camp was attacked and the workers’ tents smashed or burned down.

Although food was collected for the strikers, hunger united their families. Leila would wake before sunrise to light a wood fire that cooked the little food they had and to heat a 44-gallon drum, cut in half lengthways, and filled with water that the children brought in buckets from the river for their morning bath. With her ancient flat iron she pressed their clothes, so that they went to school “spotless”, as she would say.


Back in the 1980s the most famous sporting personality (who played for Wee Waa prior to an international rugby league career) in the district was Steve Ella who, like Eddie Murray, was Kamilaroi. In the 19th century it took British musket and horse to subdue the Kamilaroi after forty years of fierce resistance.

Arthur Murray spoke to Janie and her friend David about a crown with the words King Koon written on it – a fake tourist boomerang with painted fish, guinea fowl and crocodile attached to the crown. This racist emblem sat on the mantle of the other pub in town called the Royal as a perverse kind of trophy. The crown was bestowed on Keith Morris for services to aboriginal welfare.

Janie and David went to the pub to suss it out and take photos if they could. The barman bailed them up with the whole room looking on after David fired off a snapshot of the crown with its boomerang headdress [pictured above]. The burst of the flash alerted everyone in the bar, including the publican who came over and demanded to know what was going on. Everyone was on edge after Eddie was killed. It may seem fanciful but those guys in the pub may have spoken a lot about their famous local, Steve Ella, and his cousin Mark who captained Australia back then … perhaps even with a kind of begrudging admiration.

But that did not help Eddie Murray with the local coppers on that cold hard cell floor in 1981. Janie and David made it for the door of the pub after David fired off the snap, fearful of becoming collateral damage in a war that still raged.

Of course white settlers were not averse to bestowing crowns on blackfellas to acquire their land. But David’s father got out, selling his sheep run to Australian cotton introduced by Americans. Eddie Murray got the hard floor and that cell door. But David and Janie had come to find out what happened to Eddie and to help his parents mount a challenge to the police denials of foul play. Quoting John Pilger again:

On 12 June, 1981, Arthur and Leila’s son, Eddie, aged 21, was drinking with some friends in a park in Wee Waa. He was a star footballer confident he would be selected to tour New Zealand with the Redfern All Blacks Rugby League team. At 1.45 pm he was picked up by the police for nothing but drunkenness. Within an hour he was dead in a cell, with a blanket tied round his neck.  (11 October 2012)


Thirty-five years later justice eludes the Murray family still. Notwithstanding coronial inquiries, exhumation, the recommendations of 1987 royal commission into black deaths in custody, parliamentary investigations, countless articles and even books like Clouds.

On the 14th June 1981 Keith Raymond MORRIS, of 3 Delta Pine Place, Wee Waa, N.S.W. was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for service in the field of Aboriginal welfare [Queen’s Birthday Honours List 1981]. It just so happens Keith Morris was a close friend of Arthur Murray and supported him through his struggles to get justice for Eddie.

On the 19th November 1997 when Eddie’s body was finally exhumed to find a broken sternum caused at the time of his death, Arthur Murray and family asked community members to represent them – Keith Morris and Bruce Munro. Keith and Arthur’s friendship had grown from working together on the cotton chipping. Arthur Murray worked out a way of getting all the aboriginal chippers to work on time:

Arthur found a unique solution to the problem of getting
workers to the fields by sunrise. His friend, Keith Morris, was woken
by him at two am and then driven around the camps, while the rest
of the crew was picked up, some of whom had only just gone to bed.
‘Get these fellas moving,’ Arthur ordered Keith. They drove until
Bradys Bridge, where they stopped and slept for a few hours, ensuring
they reached the chipping fields on time [Eddie’s Country p46].

But Keith’s support did not go as far supporting the graffiti campaign that was SMH1981launched after Eddie was killed. Keith Morris opposed the protestors, saying that:

‘The painting of the War Memorial Clock was disgraceful, and while the people do have some grievances, the action taken is not the way to solve their problems.’


The Camps
From 1973 there were 7 or more camp sites that were used by cotton chippers.
The name “reserve” is just a term the Namoi Shire Council used on their signs to dress up these rudimentary camps to make them sound better to the public.

By the beginning of 1974, some of these camps had a bore pump installed and running water delivered via a plumbing network.   But in less than a decade, all this infrastructure appeared to have been dismantled and removed.   So the description of the camps depended on the time frame.   Pre-1974 there wasn’t much there.   And by 1981 they appear to have been outlawed and dismantled.

Tulludunna camps

As a result of the industrial action and strike at Wee Waa in 1973, there were some improvements in camping conditions for itinerant workers.

Not all the proposed improvements were completed for in time for the 1974 cotton season.

A $50,000 grant from the Australian Government was used to provide a bore water supply, standard internal and access roads, toilet buildings and cesspits, fencing, showers and laundry facilities at  the Tulladunna, Gunidgera (“6  mile”) and Myall Vale camps.   Facilities at other camps were not significantly different from earlier seasons.

The Tulladunna camp was traditionally used by people from Walgett, Goodooga and Brewarrina, and the Gunidgera camp by people from Dubbo, Coonamble, and Gilgandra.

At Tulladunna, a limited area was been fenced in and provided with an all-weather road, 10 scattered toilet buildings, and a structure containing 12 shower cubicles (6 for men and  6 for women) and 4 laundry tubs.

Gunidgera Camp
Shower and laundry facilities under construction at the Tulladunna workers camp in August 1973. Photo: “New Dawn” magazine.

Further grants were promised to develop at least one other camp site and to employ a field officer/maintenance man over the chipping  season.

One other possibility considered for this and future seasons was the provision of some sort of picture theatre at Wee Waa.

Money was raised through various Government agencies for the purpose of improving the facilities at these work camps for the itinerant workers.   As I understand it, this money was then given to the Namoi Shire Council who supervised the work.   They in turn would have called for tenders and hired contractors to carry out the actual work.   It probably all went through the shire because they either owned, or at least controlled, these parcels of land where the camps were set up.   So without their involvement, nothing could be done.   Since the Namoi Shire was running the show, they could just as easily close the camps down……and it appears that is what they eventually did.

Later developments
In mid-September 1973 the Department of Aboriginal Affairs made a further grant to Namoi Shire Council for the purpose providing two blocks of showers and laundry facilities at Myall Vale camp.

Tulladunna Camp, Wee Waa 1981

This meant that  the three camp sites of Gunidgera, Tullandunna and Myall Vale would have reticulated water, roads, fences, toilets, showers, and laundry tubs.

However with the austerity of the late seventies and early 1980s the shire clerk banned camping on Tulladunna Reserve.

There was no ‘tent embassy’  on the reserve in 1981 – yet blackfellas did set up tents flying the black, red and yellow of the aboriginal flag near the Namoi River (shown).

As prelude of sovereignty struggles to come a land claim was made and AboriginaLand was graffittied on the shire clerk’s sign prohibiting campers.

Namoi_Shire copy
You can just make out AboriginaLand spray painted at the bottom of the sign. Photo: Courtesy of the Radical Times Historical Archive.

There were a lot of these temporary camp sites (at least 7 of them) around Wee Waa.   Namely, (1). Merah North Camp, (2). Gunidgera Camp, (3). Tulladunna Lane Camp, (4). Tulladunna Camp, (5). Middle Camp, (6). Collins Bridge Camp, and (7). Myall Vale Camp.

They were all within about a dozen miles from Wee Waa and some (like Tulladunna) were pretty much on the outskirts of Wee Waa just 3 or 4 miles away.

Prior to 1974, these camp sites were little more than open paddocks with little or no facilities.   After the strike of 1973, they found the funds to start building primitive shower and toilet blocks.   Work on this got underway in the latter part of 1973.

melbourne RAR
Henry Thorpe (drummer Hard Times), Robin Bailey (artist), Peter Rotumah (guitarist-singer Hard Times) advertise Rock Against Racism’s first gig in Melbourne by painting a billboard for publicity photos Photo: National Library of Australia.

The response
Occupation of Tulladunna reserve.
Making Change Happen talks about how activists in Wee Waa illegally squatted on the Tulladunna camp site that had been closed to camping by the Namoi Shire.   The occupation lasted for approximately 11 days . It  started two weeks after Eddie’s ‘suicide’ on 12 June 1981 (Eddie’s Country p77). The occupation doesn’t appear to be a “tent embassy” as such, although it is tempting to draw a parallel with other tent embassies that came before (1972 in Canberra) and of course later.   In other words, nobody in Wee Waa was describing this land claim action as a tent embassy.   The occupiers wanted to re-open this camp in readiness for the next cotton chipping season.

Nine days into the occupation, there was spray-painting of shops and war memorial  in the township. This happened on Saturday night 4th July 1981.  One of the slogans lay the injustice at the feet of the cotton farmers: “What Kills black babies?” is the question posed on the War Memorial clock in the centre of Wee Waa. “Napalm in Vietnam, cotton chemical in Wee Waa” was the reply scrawled on the base of the memorial.

graffiti copy
Graffiti on base of War Memorial, Wee Waa, 1981

Those who believed Australian identity was forged in wars against Turkey (the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915-16) and the war in Vietnam were shocked and made calls for a $2,000 reward to catch the graffiti artists. But they ignored the reality that Australia’s identity was derived also from a frontier war still wreaking damage on so many aboriginal people.

The graffiti shows a gut reaction to the injustice: “Cops are the murderers” such a short time after Eddie Murray’s killing. The occupation lasted about a week and a half managing to hold out against the full force of the reactionary racist onslaught pitted against it  e.g. wheel traps, bashings, threat of being run over or hung, shots in the night.

dic royal commission

Direct action was followed by an organised political response in the form of a Committee to Defend Black Rights (CDBR) which was set up after the killing of 16 year old  John Pat in Roeburne W.A. on 23 September 1983 by six off-duty police. But it was Eddie’s ‘suicide’ that got the committee looking to the Left for support. They published articles in the Communist Party Tribune and the Socialist Workers Party’s Direct Action.


Arthur Murray
Arthur Murray campaigning for Royal Commission, National Speaking Tour, Melbourne 1986. Photo: Ruth Braunstein.

Kevin Cook from Tranby and Karen Flick were both involved in the protest at Wee Waa in 1981:

Karen: We had been talking about land matters I guess around Wee Waa for a long time, and then the council started to close down some of the camping areas saying it was unhealthy or something like that, it was not fit for people and the water was buggered up. But they had buggered the water up themselves, through the run off of the chemicals they used on the cotton! So we campaigned around the land issue – it was about challenging the local council that Tulladunna had to be left open for people who come there and work, seasonally on the cotton chipping, that  was the place that they would stay. So, we had a responsibility to keep Tulladunna open.

Tulladunna protest camp
Left to Right: Joe Flick, Arthur Murray (partly obscured), Isabel Flick, Barbara Flick and Karen Flick. Sitting with her back to camera is Jenny Brockie reporting for ABC news. Note the Wheel trap in front of Karen Flick Photo: Joanna Kelly

Kevin: We’d heard about this occupation from the Flick family and we organised the Tranby* bus to go up. We had a few students from Collarenebri at that time, like Chittles (Colin Thorne) and  some other students that Isabel had been sending down. And we had some lawyers and Madeline McGrady, the Aboriginal filmmaker coming too, to document the occupation.

Karen: Yeah that’s right, you were all coming up anyway from Sydney and the South Coast to support the June land rights occupation. Then Eddie Murray was killed in June and that involved our family and the Murray family big time obviously. I remember the day that Helen Murray, his sister, came around and said to Mum and Aunty Iz, ‘You got to come! You got to come! Eddie’s dead’, so they just jumped in the car and went up there. And then all the other things that happened after that, it was very intense, it was very difficult to go through that, anytime anyway.
There were a whole lot of other questions that needed to be asked so we decided that we would go ahead with having the sit-in at Tulladunna. It was a bigger picture – it was about whether somebody could come there and be able to get some employment and be safe at the end of it all.

Kevin: We camped there, the nights we were there for that weekend occupation, I remember how cold it was, in the middle of winter.

Karen: Yeah, and it was getting pretty hostile wasn’t it.

Kevin: That’s right – that car come that night. Tried to run over the tents. One of the Koorie lads from Tranby was sleeping in it. He jumped up and chased the car, banged on it with his fists on the windows… I thought he’d be knocked ass over head, jeez he was close to getting knocked over.

Metal spike-arrays like the one shown in the photo on the ground in front of Karen Flick were designed to puncture car tires if you drive over them.   The wheel trap in the picture was found hidden on the road as you approach the camp.


Work camps like Tulladunna were established when Aboriginal people sought casual or seasonal work in the pastoral or agricultural industries. These camps allowed Aboriginal people to be close to employers as well as close to schools and stores.   The protestors wanted to try and re-open this popular camp in readiness for the next cotton chipping season.   The local Shire Council had a different idea.   They wanted to move itinerant workers even further away from the town …

Paul Kahl, left, Frank Hadley, Jean Kahl and Norma Hadley first pioneered the Australian cotton industry, then helped make it a world leader. Picture: Adam Knott. Source: The Australian.
Paul Kahl, left, Frank Hadley, Jean Kahl and Norma Hadley first pioneered the Australian cotton industry, then helped make it a world leader. Picture: Adam Knott. Source: The Australian.

These Californian entrpreneurs (pictured) rejected the restriction on the amount of land that could be allocated to them in the San Jonachim valley and came to Wee Waa and bought an old sheep property called Glencoe in 1961 for for £45,000. The Australian government encouraged the water-hungry crop. These Americans had read that, with only 10,000 bales of production each year and local mills capable of using 10 times this amount, Australia wanted to boost cotton output. They also knew that the federal government paid a bounty to encourage plantings. There were no restrictions placed on spraying the crops and the aboriginal labourers in the fields with DDT, not unlike the chemical Agent Orange that the US military sprayed on milions of Vietnamese people to prop up the military regime of Marshall Ky in Southern Vietnam. Of course the Australian article makes no mention of this. Instead it talked up the economic miracle that cotton was (to some):

Between the third year of production, in 1963-64, and 1967-68, the area planted quintupled to more than 20,000 hectares, while yields quadrupled. In summer, Wee Waa was abuzz with itinerant cotton workers. The Namoi Valley was on the world cotton map and the days of Australia growing below-grade cotton were well and truly gone.

The cotton industry had created the perfect circumstance for low paid agricultural work without any strong unions and aboriginal labourers exploited by settlers and their governments.


Campaign for Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody

arthur and pat

Leila Murray
Leila Murray December 23,1939 – April 4, 2003 Photo: Koori Times

Rock against Racism
In a reprise of the events of Brixton in the UK with bands like The Clash opposing racism, Australian activists mounted their own ‘Rock against Racism’.  As it turned out this was organised by committed musos and activists, both blackfellas and whitefellas, with gigs held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Over 260 people were arrested in a week of activities begun at a ‘Rock against Racism’ gig organised largely by local Brisbane activists at Souths Rugby League Club (Davies Park, West End) on 25th September 1982. In her book Janie, evoking the sadness of the Murray’s, describes taking up a guitar and, with a deep breath, began to sing to a reggae rhythm:

Eddie Murray was a fine young man.
He had everything to fight for and nothing to die for.
His mother and his father they loved him true.
And all of his brothers and his sisters too.
Now they're crying out for justice.
Their hearts are filled with sorrow.
For their boy with so much future,
who will have no tomorrow.

Eddie came from a town called Wee Waa,
in the deep north of New South Wales.
Where cotton is grown by wealthy landlords,
and cheap black labour helps keep it that way.
Shall we let history repeat itself?
Shall we work for change?
Or shall we let this wide brown land of plenty
become another American range?

Three o'clock one afternoon,
Police van came and took him away.
One hour later they found him dead,
hung with a blanket from his cell bed.
Sergeant say he took his own life.
Evidence points the other way.
Eddie was too drunk to do it.
Now the law don't know what to say.

Now Eddie's not the only one,
to meet his death in such a violent way.
This country was built with the life-blood
of a People who still have no say.
Now they're crying out for justice.
Their hearts are filled with sorrow.
For their children with so much future,
who will have no tomorrow.

Ian Curr
Jan 2015


*Beneath the Grace of Clouds

by Janie Conway-Herron
Cockatoo Books (2010)
ISBN 978-0-646-53839-6
Beneath the Grace of Clouds is available online.
The Eddie Murray Song © Janie Conway-Herron 1982

Making Change Happen
Black and White Activists talk to Kevin Cook about Aboriginal, Union and Liberation Politics
Kevin Cook and Heather Goodall
ISBN 9781921666728 (Print version) $40.00 (GST inclusive)
ISBN 9781921666742 (Online)

Eddie’s country : why did Eddie Murray die?
by Simon Luckhurst
Magabala Books Aboriginal Corporation (2006)
ISBN-10: 1875641947
ISBN-13: 978-1875641949

New Dawn – A magazine for the Aboriginal Community of New South Wales.
November 1973, Vol. 4, No. 6.

“Pickin’ Winners” by Paul Myers which published in The Australian (newspaper) on 9th December, 2010, and also in The Weekend Australian Magazine on 11-12th December, 2010.

Black from the edge / Kevin Gilbert
Hyland House 1994
ISBN 978-0-9876030-6-7 (iBook) Buy Now
ISBN 0 9588019 (print)

Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) quote from The Gardener 85.
Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 – the first Asian to do so.

*Tranby is a historic house in the Sydney suburb of Glebe built about 1850.  Since 1958 the Tranby house and grounds have been the main campus of Tranby Aboriginal College.   One of the voices in the extract is Kevin Cook …. who became the first Aboriginal General Secretary of the Aboriginal Co-operative Movement, whose best known achievement is Tranby College.

The life and death of Arthur Murray by John Pilger


Rock against Racism concert was held on 25 September 1982 at Souths Rugby League Club in Davies Park South Brisbane in the lead-up to the 1982 Commonwealth Games Land Rights Protests.

Rock against racism
Courtesy of the Radical Times Historical Archive.

There were two Rock against Peterson concerts held one at the Baroona Hall in Caxton Street on the 30 November 1979 and was organised by the Brisbane Civil Liberties Co-ordinating Committee (CLCC). A number of people (12?) were violently arrested outside the gig by Qld Police Task Force led by John Watt. To justify police assaults, Stephen Zaborowski was put on criminal charges and only escaped prison on appeal. Lachlan Hurse (CLCC) did the poster for the gig.

The second Rock Against Petersen concert occurred on Macintosh Island at Surfers paradise on Sunday 28 January 1983 and was organised largely by Civil Liberties Co-ordinating Committee (Gold Coast) and 4ZZZ. Stephen Zaborowski played an important role in organising this gig.


Thanks to Janie Conway-Herron for her assistance in preparing this article.

A special thanks to Peter Gray from the Radical Times Historical Archive for the images in this article, his incredible research skills in finding out who was the recipient of the racist crown (Keith Morris OAM) and for his clear enunciation of the facts. This article would not have been possible without him.


Keith Raymond Morris OAM 17th April 1929 – 3rd November 2001, was buried at Lightning Ridge not far from Angledool Mission where his wife Jean Sands grew up.

leilaDespite what Dorothea has said
about the sun scorched land
you’ve never really lover her 
nor sought to make her grand
you pollute all the rivers 
and litter every road
your barbaric graffiti
cut scars where tall trees grow 
the beaches and the mountains
are covered with your shame 
injustices rules supremely 
despite your claims to fame
the mud polluted rivers 
are fenced off from the gaze
a tyranny no rules your soul to your own image blind
a callousness and uncouth ways
now hallmarks of your kind
                  Kevin Gilbert The New True Anthem 

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